http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/285332

Black Nazarene Image Draws Millions of Devotees to Manila

Posted Jan 9, 2010 by Leo Reyes
Thousands of devotees flocked to Manila since 8:30 a.m. Saturday to join a day-long procession of the Black Nazarene, an annual religious event that draws Christian believers to the miraculous image of Jesus Christ.
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The Black Nazarene image continues to draw devotees from around the country to join a day-long procession around predetermined routes in the City of Manila. The procession coincides with the Feast of Black Nazarene, an annual fiesta celebration in Manila.
The ongoing procession, which is expected to end by 9:00 p.m. Saturday, has already claimed two lives due to cardiac arrest and exhaustion as 12 other devotees have been rushed to various hospitals in Manila for medical treatment.
The Feast of Black Nazarene, which is annually held in Quiapo, has long been marred by deaths and injuries of devotees during the procession.
In 2008, an estimated crowd of 1.5 million people joined the procession. Two people died and at least 50 were injured.
In 2009, the Church and the local government of Manila decided to change the route of the procession.
Devotees, however, pulled the rope of the Black Nazarene’s carriage back to its original route. Nearly 100 people were injured during the procession.
The procession started at 8:30 a.m. after a Mass presided over by the Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales at the Quirino Grandstand near the Rizal Monument at Luneta Park. At noontime, Police estimated the crowd at around two million and still increasing. The crowd is estimated to swell to three million until 9:30 Saturday night in Manila.
Every year the annual religious rites claim many lives due to stampedes and the sheer number of people who want to touch the image of the Black Nazarene. Many devotees believe that touching the image of Black Nazarene will bring them good luck. Others believe that by joining the procession, their wishes will be granted aside from strengthening their faith and fulfilling their vows.
The Black Nazarene is a life-sized, dark-colored, wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ held to be miraculous by many people, especially its Filipino devotees. Its original carver is an anonymous Mexican carpenter, and the image was transported by galleon from Mexico.
The image is currently enshrined in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, Philippines where novena celebrations are held every Friday throughout the whole year. Roman Catholic tradition holds that the Black Nazarene came from a boat that caught fire, turning it from its original white into black or charred complexion. The Black Nazarene is carried into the streets for procession in a "Caroza" or carriage.